King County Metro Transit, which serves metro Seattle, has announced plans to acquire 120 battery-electric buses by 2020. Up to 73 of these will be ordered from Proterra, at a cost of up to $55 million.
Eight of the buses are to go into service this year, and 12 more in 2019. In a pilot project funded in part by a $3.3-million grant from the Federal Transit Administration’s Low-or No-Emission Vehicle Deployment Program, last year Metro began running three all-electric buses on routes serving some of the county’s densest job centers, including the Microsoft campus and downtown Bellevue.
“King County has long been an innovator in clean vehicle technology,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Now, we’re dramatically expanding our zero-emission electric bus fleet and working with the industry to innovate and offer next generation vehicles that move people quietly and cleanly while helping meet our climate goals.”
Metro will acquire up to nine long-range electric buses from different manufacturers to test battery technology. The authority hopes to challenge the industry to produce buses that can travel farther, and also to develop 60-foot buses, better able to replace the articulated buses that make up 55 percent of its fleet.
“To better serve our customers, we want battery buses that travel longer distances and can carry more people,” said Metro Transit General Manager Rob Gannon. “We’re committed to expanding our battery bus fleet, and need the industry to accelerate development of standardized battery bus charging systems so they can work flexibly for any bus route, and also build more 60-foot-long articulated buses – which serve as the transit workhorses in King County.”